Lady Phantoms put forth strong effort

The Grand Canyon girls basketball team made an exciting but losing effort to rival Seligman in the opening round of the 2007 Route 66 Williams tournament, falling 39-29 to the girl Antelopes.

Trailing 22-9 after the third quarter, the Lady Phantoms outscored Seligman by scoring 20 to 10 in the fourth quarter to make it interesting.

Miriam Bankston led the young Phantoms with 8 fourth-quarter points, to go along with 9 rebounds.

"I think the fact that we are very young and Seligman had already played three games played a big factor in us falling behind early," said Head Coach Dan Lopez. "We are so young that the first half was a moment of survival, as many girls were getting their first taste of varsity basketball."

He said that after halftime they settled down and were more focused on running offense and defense.

"We hung tough and made a good fourth quarter run," said Lopez. "Last year Seligman beat us by 40 so we are slowly closing the gap. I was very proud of how we did not give up."

Scheduling at least one or two games before the Route 66 tourney will help them acclimate to real game situations, he said.

The Lady Phantoms rebounded from a tough loss to Seligman by upsetting the Bagdad Lady Spartans 31-30 in the consolation bracket of the Williams Route 66 tournament.

With the score tied 30-30 with 28 seconds remaining, sophomore Monique Streit hit the first of a one-and-one free throw to put the Phantoms up 31-30.

After a missed Bagdad shot and a Grand Canyon turnover the young Phantoms had the ball under the Bagdad basket with four seconds on the clock.

Lopez called a time-out to set up an inbounds play that would allow the girls to get the ball inbounds and run out the clock.

"This was a big step for us," he said. "The girls were scared to death. One of them made a comment that they did not want to make the play. So instead of talking X's and O's we talked about attitude, and changing the mindset from 'I don't' to 'I want.'"

Despite the big win, he said this was an important part of their learning process.

"I want my players to be energized and want to make the game winning play," he said. "If they succeed, great. If they don't, well the sun is still going to come up in the east. I just want them to develop an inner confidence that they can carry beyond basketball."

Freshman Madison Berry and senior Ashana Jones led the Phantoms in scoring with 8 points each. Sophomore Miriam Bankston had a team high 13 rebounds.

The revitalized Lady Phantoms failed to wake up in a semi-final consolation bracket game in the Route 66 Williams basketball tournament, losing to Ashfork 33-22.

"I'm not sure what happened," a distraught Lopez commented. "We never got on track. We barely went through the motions of playing basketball. We did not rebound, defend, shoot or take care of the ball. I hope we were not resting on our laurels over beating Bagdad the day before or using the morning start time as an excuse because regionals and state tournament games are played in the morning."

The team was only down 15-11 at halftime but did not score in the third quarter.

"I just have to keep in mind that we are a very young team," said Lopez. "All of the mistakes we made today are correctable and I know the girls realized that they played poorly. The good news is that at this time last year we were 0-4 and had lost by 40 plus points. Now we are 1-2 and have been in position to win every game."

Miriam Bankston led the ladies with 13 points and 19 rebounds.

"Miriam is going to be a force in our conference and if she keeps working hard on the court and in the classroom, we will continue to be successful."

Lizzy Tobin, Monique Streit and Ashana Jones all had strong showings during the tournament. The Lady Phantoms go to Rock Point and St. Michael's this week, before opening at home against powerhouse Fredonia on Friday, Dec. 13, then home against the Seligman Antelopes on Saturday, Dec. 14.

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